Tomorrow will see the unveiling of something new from Apple. Across the world Apple fans and sceptics alike are girding their loins with excitement and speculation: and I unashamedly join them. Damned if I know what they’ll actually reveal though.
I’m not going to make any real predictions, except to say that no matter how revolutionary it _actually_ is, it’ll seem _much_ more than that. Your first thoughts, along with a sizeable proportion of the sentient media-consuming populace will be something along the lines of “Holy crap… why didn’t anyone think of that before” (even if it has actually been done, this’ll seem better). Your second thought will probably be somewhat more covetous…
And I think it’ll be appealing to a whole market of folk who’ve never bought into the world of digital content before. Forget the fanboys, geeks, techheads and early adopters… I think whatever this is, it’ll appeal to people who’ve not engaged with computers fully before, or who have but battle against the machine constantly. Old folk who have held out against owning computers; physically disabled people who’ve previously felt disenfranchised by the current computer experience. An experience which is largely language-agnostic, and eschews most of the ‘standard’ GUI conventions of the last 25 years of the mouse and keyboard, freeing the user to manipulate, consume and interact intuitively. Think a pinch of Wacom Cintiq with a soupcon of Minority Report and a healthy dollop of iPhone, on a little glass slab you’ll want to tote around with you as much as possible.
The iPhone was just a start, a toe in the water of gesture and touch-based manipulation of a digital environment: this will build on that, and leverage the rich ecosystem of apps and paid content which Apple has nourished and developed.
I think whatever it is will blur previously defined boundaries between old and new media, but the key has to be the interface. Something your proverbial granny or your four-year old kid will just ‘get’ and feel at home with, and can interact with in a much more intuitive and natural way. Content may be king, but context and execution of this interaction will be the game-changer here.
I expect something so bloody obvious, so natural and so liberating that when we look back in hindsight, it’s one of those landmark moments in human interaction and experience. Like most Apple inventions, it won’t be new: it’ll just be refined, reduced and re-evaluated until it fulfills a niche in the market we didn’t even realise was there…
Well, I can hope … 🙂